Exploring the attitudes and perceptions of Chinese students towards their tertiary studies in New Zealand
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Because of economic growth and increased competition in the workplace, studying abroad has become popular in China. Chinese students are extremely important in the international education market. New Zealand, as one of the destination countries, recruits thousands of Chinese students annually. The tuition fees paid by these students are of great importance especially in the education sector. In order to attract more Chinese students coming to New Zealand, tertiary institutes may be interested in understanding their demands, concerns, and difficulties. This study examines the attitudes and perceptions of Chinese post-80s undergraduate students towards New Zealand higher education. Three main issues are explored: (1) The reasons why Chinese students leave China and choose New Zealand; (2) The challenges they encounter while studying in New Zealand; (3) The advantages and disadvantages of Chinese and New Zealand education. An interpretivist paradigm was adopted in my research, which enabled me to uncover the motivations, intentions, and values of the younger Chinese generation in depth by talking with them. The findings indicate that the difficulties of gaining admission to a prestigious Chinese university and of finding good jobs in China are the primary reasons why Chinese students prefer to study abroad. The attractive factors of New Zealand include its good natural and social environment, Western-style education, and opportunities of working in the country and immigrating after graduation. Insufficient language proficiency, cultural differences, and different educational systems are the major challenges that result in Chinese students’ isolation from local students and poor performance in their academic achievements. However, despite the challenges they have encountered, most Chinese students appreciate New Zealand tertiary education system because they have become confident and independent. Most importantly, they have developed their capacity for critical thought.